King of Kenpo
Student Gary Wood and Master Pat Munk go through self-defense techniques in the art of Kenpo, a form or karate. Munk has been practicing Kenpo for 27 years and holds a sixth-degree black belt.
Austell man gets a kick out of martial arts discipline
By Robin Yamakawa
Marietta Daily Journal Staff Writer
Staff photos by Todd R. McQueen
AUSTELL - What started as a way to protect himself on the mean streets of Louisville, Ky., has turned into a lifelong passion for Pat Munk.
Munk, 50, of Austell has been practicing Kenpo, a form of karate that emphasizes self-defense, for 27 years. He is a master and holds a sixth-degree black belt, out of a highest possible ranking of 10th degree, and has won several awards, including the Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame 2003 Man of the Year - Kenpo.
"I started out in Kenpo, and I have been exposed to a lot of different styles of martial arts over the years, but Kenpo suited me the best," he said.
Munk Said he got started with Kenpo when he was 23 and was working as a horse shoer in Louisville.
"I worked in some bad areas of town in Louisville, Ky., and it beat carrying a gun," he said.
His wife Brenda, 49, also began taking the lessons with him.
"It teaches you to analyze a situation and prepares you enough to deal with it calmly and effectively to neutralize the threat," he said. "In the society we have today, with the violence in today's communities out there, you have got to do something to protect yourself."
"I was mugged by three guys once in Kentucky," he said. "Well, I got away. It got me out of a real tight jam. One of them had a pipe, and it was the training I had that got me through it. I probably wouldn't have survived that if I hadn't had the training."
He later began offering Kenpo training to others, sharing what he learned. In Kenpo, he said, a student must learn more than 450 self-defense moves to achieve a black belt. With Munk's sixth-degree belt, he knows more than 600 self-defense moves.
Munk said he was also able to put his Kenpo knowledge to use when he and his family moved to Austell and he worked for the Cobb County Police Department from 1983 to 1992.
He said the moves he learned while studying Kenpo helped him immensely during his five years as a patrol officer, and then later he used some of the philosophies in training he conducted at the North Central Georgia Law Enforcement Academy in Marietta.
"I incorporated it in a lot of stuff that I trained up there," he said. "I taught defensive tactics, firearms, officer survival, basic courses, baton instruction."
When he was working with the police department in 1986, he won the silver medal in the International Police Olympics for fighting.
Munk said having the confidence that comes from knowing Kenpo often can defuse a conflict. He said that is the most rewarding thing he shares as a teacher of the art.
"One guy, he needed self-defense because he was being bullied and harassed," he said. "Later, from what I taught him, he was able to help neutralize the situation. He was able to intervene without it getting to the point of someone getting shot."
He said that is important to him.
"I carried (a gun) for 10 years, but there is a consequence that comes with carrying a gun, and any way you can defend yourself without having to go that route is good," he said.
He also said carrying a gun for self-defense is also often not practical.
"You are not going to pull a gun out in a mall and defend yourself," he said. "A gun might not always be with you, but your karate will always be with you."
Over the years, he estimates, he has taught thousands of people the tricks of the self-defense trade. In addition to his work with the police academy, he taught women's self-defense classes for Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta from 1992 to 1994. In 1994, he was the Georgia State Professional Karate Commission Fighting Champion in his age group.
Currently, he teaches about 15 students. He said it is very informal and he usually spends about 20 to 25 hours a week training alongside his students.
"I don't have a fixed location to teach at," he said. "I go out sometimes to other spaces and teach seminars out of state. I sometimes go to these people houses and workout there and we also do some training outside."
He said training in people's yards and county parks can sometimes be funny.
"You get all kind of strange looks as people drive by and blow the horn," he said.
Munk said going from training in people's yards to receiving his admittance to the Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame in July 2003 was shocking. He was nominated anonymously for his contribution to the sport.
Although he is no longer competing because of heart surgery in the mid '90s, he said he still finds Kenpo rewarding and plans to keep it up for the health and discipline benefits the rest of his life.
"I'll probably go to my grave doing Kenpo," he said. "I don't plan to stop anytime soon."
Munk sits with a trophy he received for being admitted to the Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame in July 2003. Although he no longer competes because of heart surgery in the mid-'90s, Munk says he still finds the art rewarding and plans to continue it for his health and the discipline benefits it offers.
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